Ramblin' Road Brewery Farm
2970 Swimming Pool Road, La Salette Ontario
As our day of brewery hopping in Norfolk County was winding down, I still had one more brewery for us to explore, Ramblin' Road Brewery Farm. I had failed to mention this additional itinerary item to my wonderful wife and today's (most days) designated driver. As I danced around asking her, I reminisced about those late night taxi rides home when asking the driver to hit McDonalds with the promise of a McChicken.
Here’s where I had a happy accident, I asked her “Do you mind if we make a quick stop at Picard’s?”. You see I said Picard’s, when I should have said Ramblin’ Road. If you aren't familiar, Picard’s is a well-known chain of country stores famous for Southern Ontario’s healthiest snack, the Chip Nut. If you don't know what a Chip Nut is, snacking as you know it is about to change. A chip nut is a roasted peanut coated in a layer of potato and deep fried. They are dangerously delicious and available in a ton of flavours. I explained to her that Picard’s also operates a brewery outside of La Salette, Ontario. Her response was “A place exists where you can get chip nuts and beer? Why didn’t we go there first?”
Venturing down the curiously named Swimming Pool Road, we passed tobacco barns and fields until a huge sign appeared in the distance. Pulling into the gravel parking lot, the large industrial building sits with an entire side emblazoned with the Canadian flag. The brewery's entrance has been spruced up with brick accents and a large welcome arch. Across the parking lot, we noticed the “farm” part of the Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm. Two acres of dense green hop vines creeping high into the Norfolk sky, nearing harvest time. Here customers can easily see hop operations and how they are grown, a nice touch. The staff graciously offered us the opportunity to explore and take some pictures between the vines.
We took a seat at a picnic table under the entrance arch and were quickly greeted. The service was excellent - super fast and friendly, offering explanation to the beer and food menu. Ramblin’ Road operates a second floor restaurant named the Roost offering a menu of burgers, sandwiches and sides at very reasonable prices.
Ramblin’ Road Farm Brewery was established in 2007 by John Picard in an effort to diversify Picard product lines. First starting in hop farming, before beginning brewing operations onsite in 2012. Ramblin’ Road claims to be Ontario’s first and only farm brewery. They may lay claim to being the first (as I didn’t bother to research it), but they are certainly no longer the only farm brewery in Ontario. I know this because I was at another that same day, Charlotteville Brewing Co, a mere 16kms away.
We ventured inside to pay the tab and load up on chip nuts. The small tap room has more of a country convenience store vibe than brewery. The brewery production area is only partially visible behind the taps. The room features a small bar with nine taps and a cooler wall with a full selection of their beers available in either bottles or cans. They offer a 355ml bottle variety pack with 6 of their core brews. The beer is affordably priced, and I saw a steady stream of customers buying to go.
These Chip Nuts are making me thirsty, tell us about the beer!
Country Pilsner – sweet cereal nose, crisp with light Saaz hop bitterness through to clean dry finish. True to style, really enjoyable.
Country Cream Ale – Light nose of straw and apple, very crisp with subtle bitterness, tastes of light banana with an earthy finish. Another classic well done.
Dakota Pearl Ale (DPA) – Picard’s produces an extreme beer bathed kettle chip. Do you wonder where all that potato soaked beer went while you are sipping on a cold Ramblin’ Road DPA? Surprise! You are drinking it. Certainly a creative attempt at a new style, and the taster I had on tap was a pleasant cream ale style with a bit more earthiness in the finish. I bought a 473ml can to bring home and revisit. Unfortunately the can I bought home poured a cloudy brown and was nearly flat. Since I had paid for it, I was going to drink it. I couldn't stomach more than a few sips. It tasted like dirty raw potato water, quite remarkably so. Sadly, it was a drain pour.
3D Triple Chocolate Stout – Bittersweet chocolate aromas, with tastes of milk chocolate, dark roast coffee and a touch of vanilla. Very approachable stout.
IPA Unleashed – Pouring an amber colour with aromas of toffee, the caramel malt sweetness dominates the sip with a bit of ripe banana. The Piney orange pith bitterness arrives towards the finish. More Amber ale in style but approachable for their customer base.
Hop’n Apple – Aromas of light citrus and apple, the taste is crisp with some orange citrus and a fresh apple backbone. A beer that would appeal to beer drinkers and cider drinkers alike, very tasty and refreshing.
Ramblin’ Road is a laid back spot for for a couple beers and a bite to eat with friends or family. The beer was fresh, easy drinking and very refreshing. We will definitely be back during our next Norfolk County adventure for a burger, cold pint and every flavour of Chip Nuts.
Stay positive and drink good beer.